But it’s also critical that the CFP Board raise its enforcement game, because the biggest missing piece in the quest to professionalize financial planning is a separate regulatory body focused on financial planning. At this juncture, planners are regulated for things besides the actual financial planning role.

Only the CFP Board is even close to taking on all the tasks a separate regulator would need to, with all the pieces in place. Mind you, I have no idea if that is what the board aspires to, but it’s the best the public has.

Financial planning is not a means to facilitate the sale of financial products. It is a professional endeavor that serves clients by helping them make the best decisions possible. Regulators don’t seem to get that.

A proper regulatory regime would require licensees to prove competence, maintain competence, adhere to procedural standards, adhere to ethical standards at a bona fide fiduciary level and enforce those standards with punishments commensurate with the offenses.

The CFP Board looks pretty good on most of these items. It may be that The Wall Street Journal fiasco has cast doubt on how well the board can provide the enforcement needed. Time will tell. I believe the board can tighten up its enforcement functions, but only to a point. It will still lack the legal muscle needed to mete out punishments such as fines, payments to victims, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, suspensions or bans from practice, or imprisonment. Some offenses call for such punishments.

Even after the board fixes its mess, it will only be able to restrict the use of the marks. The reformation of the board’s enforcement would further solidify the marks as those of the profession, but the board must go further.

While there are a number of forces that can swamp the ship, I remain optimistic. The strongest force affecting us is consumer demand, and no amount of faux planning enabled by regulatory BS can stop it. People will see through the ruse as they have more and more over the last couple of decades and vote with their feet—taking their hopes, dreams and hard-earned assets to where they are best served. It will just be harder for them to see the facts.

If you fancy yourself a professional financial planner, the profession needs you to stave off the challenges and move the profession forward. If you haven’t already, earn the right to use the CFP marks and volunteer to be subject to their rules, even if you think you don’t need those marks or found the Journal piece disturbing.

Whether you are a CFP licensee or not, join the FPA (and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors if you are fee-only), even if you don’t like your local chapter or what the national organization has done or not done. These coalition partners are the only organizations that will advocate for the financial planning profession specifically. If that were the only service provided, it would be well worth your licensing fees and dues.

Those 13 men that met in Chicago in 1969 were right. Financial planning is different and makes all the difference. If we professional planners don’t continue to fight for our ideals, the movement to professionalization could get squashed by the monied forces of the financial services industry, and the public will continue to get less than it needs and deserves.